First Look: Sparkz Products Dock Projector for iPhone + iPod
Interestingly designed, the new Sparkz Dock Projector for iPhone + iPod ($459, aka Docking Charging Projector) is a small, egg-shaped combination video projector and dock that includes its own tripod, power adapter, and twin video cables for attachment to composite or VGA video sources. With stereo speakers and a 3M projector inside, the unit boasts 640x480 and 1024x768 modes, a 15-lumens lamp, and a lithium-polymer battery, designed to let the unit run for 2.5 hours even when it's not near the wall adapter. We'll be testing it to see just how bright and crisp the video is, but there's little doubt that its small 4.5" by 3" by 2.5" size is extremely appealing for travel purposes.
Updated: There are advantages and disadvantages to product designs based upon tripods, namely, that under ideal circumstances they can be expanded to reach heights that competing products cannot, and under less than ideal ones, they’ll prove unstable and fall over. Unfortunately, the Sparkz unit tipped over one time early in our testing, falling off a desk onto a carpeted floor, and shattered its front lens—a problem that we’ve literally never experienced in six years of testing iPod and iPhone accessories. Though the outside of the unit appeared to be unscathed by the tumble, attempts to make it actually output videos were unsuccessful; some electronic connection was still being made with the devices we plugged in, but it’s possible that the bulb inside broke as well. As such, we’re unfortunately not going to be able to complete a review of this product at this time.
One thing that struck us as especially odd about the Dock Projector’s design—and something that might have prevented this problem altogether—is an unusual feature of its bottom. When we received the unit, it immediately struck us as egg-like, though we were confused by the word “push” and an arrow pointing towards the screw mount for the tripod. As it turns out, this is supposed to be indicating that you can pull off the bottom panel of the Dock Projector, exposing a completely flat surface that allows the unit to rest safely on a table without the tripod, albeit at a very low level that’s less than ideal for protecting video. Had the unit been shipped without the less stable, egg-curved bottom attached, we wouldn’t have kept the tripod plugged in for stabilization, or suffered the subsequent tip-over.